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Minnesota National Guard
Fly the Flag program reaches milestone

COB BASRA, Iraq " "When I took on this program I never thought it would be this popular," said 2nd Lt Kenneth Toole of the Red Bull Visitors' Bureau "But when I am out there flying flags, it's not just an American Flag that I am flying  I am doing something for someone else"

"Popular" is quite an understatement The RBVB proudly flew their 3,000th flag over Contingency Operating Base Basra Dec 18, as part of the "Fly the Flag" program One of the flags was flown and presented to members of Serving Our Troops, an organization that recently hosted steak dinners in St Paul, Kuwait and COB Basra for Soldiers and their families 

Day after day, Toole and other members of the RBVB tote dozens of Star Spangled Banners out to the flagpole at the entrance to the MND-S Division Headquarters building 

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There, they diligently raise, properly salute, lower and carefully fold each and every flag, while passing foot traffic snaps to attention and silently pauses to pay tribute to Old Glory

Imagine doing that 238 times in one day, as the RBVB did Sept 11  During their busy days, some people might not have the patience or desire to complete such a task, but the Soldiers who volunteer their time to fly the flag have a different perspective

"Someone is going to give that flag as a gift To give a flag that has been flown over here means something to the person that has taken the time to buy the flag and bring it in," said Toole "It is a true gift from the heart"        

Toole, who was touched by photos of someone who received a flag he flew with tears in her eyes, understands how much of an impact this simple gesture can have 
       
"This program isn't just about the flags," explained Toole
"It's about doing something for someone else and being part of something bigger  In ten years people will have forgotten many of the projects we built or some of the tasks we completed  But for generations to come those flags that were flown here will still be displayed in someone's house or in an office and forever will they say that they were flown over COB Basra Iraq by the Soldiers of the 34th "˜Red Bull' Infantry Division during their service in Operation Iraqi Freedom"

"The program has been a great success and it has been an honor to fly the flags over Basra, however, as with all things it too will come to an end," Toole stated

The last day flags will be flown for the program is Jan 2, 2010  It is estimated that by that time the RBVB will have flown over 3,500 flags, a number that exceeds Toole's goal of 1,000

By Spc Stephanie Cassinos, MND-S
Dec 29, 2009


Article source: http://www.theredbulls.org/article00539



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